Martial law still necessary in Thailand: Deputy PM

Bangkok, Jan 29 (IANS) The martial law now implemented in Thailand is still necessary for security reasons, a deputy prime minister said Thursday after a high-ranking US official called for lifting the law.

The martial law, imposed since the coup last year, was still required based on the intelligence reports, Wissanu Krea-ngam said, adding the clamp-down of the special law in Thailand did not reflect a severe domestic crisis as is said abroad, Xinhua news agency reported.
The international community will understand the necessary to enforce the law, according to the deputy premier.
Wissanu made these remarks in response to a speech that US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel made at a Bangkok-based university Monday.
“Ending martial law throughout the country and removing restrictions on speech and assembly — these would be important steps as part of a generally inclusive reform process that reflects the broad diversity of views within the country,” Russel said.
The Thai government was continuing to monitor the situation and the martial law has affected the public only on a minimal level, Wissanu insisted.
In his speech, Russel also touched upon other issues like the recent impeachment and upcoming indictment of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Critical comments from the US wounded the hearts of many Thais, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai noted earlier.
Harsh criticism was still better than the way the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had intervened in other countries’ internal affairs, Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, president of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) which voted overwhelmingly to impeach Yingluck, was quoted by Bangkok Post as saying Thursday.
Washington’s view of democracy in the Middle East and Asia centred on elections, without taking into account the context of the situation, Pornpetch said, adding other matters like riots and divisions were simply ignored.